For the past few years, I’ve been renting my DVDs from Netflix. I go to their website, pick a movie, and a few days later the DVD arrives in my mailbox. That usually suits me just fine, but sometimes I crave instant gratification.
Now, thanks to the company’s new video streaming service, I can use my laptop to watch a variety of TV shows and movies directly over the Internet—no more waiting for the DVD to arrive in the mail. I just sign in to my Netflix account, go to the Watch Instantly section, and pick a TV show or movie.
If you haven’t installed the Netflix player on your computer previously, you’re prompted to download it.
After you’ve installed the software, your show starts playing in your web browser. You can use the controls below the video to pause, fast forward, and rewind your show just like you can with a DVD.
If you want to stretch the video to fill your entire monitor, just click the Full Screen button.
There’s a lot to like about the Netflix “Watch Instantly” feature. It’s included in the cost of my monthly DVD subscription fee, so I don’t have to pay anything extra to watch shows online. Netflix is rapidly adding more things you can watch online, but there are still many titles in the Netflix library that are only available on physical DVDs.
If you don’t want to subscribe to Netflix, there are a variety of other video sites and services that you can enjoy for free. The tradeoff is that you’ll have to sit through a few commercials before or during your shows. One of these ad-supported sites is called Joost.